Court to hear challenge to biased policing of water protectors during Line 3 construction

Corrections: An earlier version of this post misidentified Winona LaDuke’s attorney. She is being represented by Frank Bibeau and Claire Glenn. It also failed to list all of the open cases against LaDuke, which have been added.

One of the hallmarks of this country’s democratic experiment is our aspiration for an impartial justice system, so it’s inexplicable how Minnesota leaders deployed law enforcement against water protectors who opposed the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in the manner that they did.

The problem started with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), but other leaders remained silent.

The PUC approved a scheme allowing Enbridge — a multi-billion dollar, multi-national Canadian company — to fund state and local law enforcement agencies to monitor and police water protectors who opposed the pipeline.

The PUC created a Public Safety Escrow Account. Enbridge funded it. Law enforcement agencies submitted bills for their Line 3-related expenses.

It created bias in the justice system, giving law enforcement financial incentives to focus on, and go after, water protectors.

The scheme finally is getting challenged in court.

Continue reading

Water protector beats bogus charge, case raises questions about biased law enforcement

A District Court Judge in Aitkin County dismissed charges against water protector Shanai Matteson Thursday morning, on day two of her trial. Matteson was charged with “aiding and abetting” trespassing on Enbridge right of way during Line 3’s construction.

The jury had been selected. It had heard from two prosecution witnesses. Before calling any defense witnesses, and before the case went to the jury, Matteson’s attorney Jordan Kushner moved to have it dismissed.

Judge Leslie Mae Metzen gave it the heave ho.

Continue reading

Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

On Aug. 27, the day following the four-day ‘Treaty Not Tar Sands’ rally, law enforcement turned out en masse to evict anyone who hadn’t left. Photo: Maggie Schuppert

[Note: This updates an Oct. 26 post with new information. The Oct. 26 post has been taken down.]

Minnesota state government spent $1.6 million in law enforcement, concrete barricades, and chain link fencing to “protect” the Capitol during the Treaties Not Tars Sands event, Aug. 23-27, according to data provided by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Seven other agencies responded to DPS’s request for aid. Their costs are not included in that figure.

It’s another chapter in excessive policing of water protectors. It stands in stark contrast to the state’s lax response to Enbridge’s permit violations and the environmental damage done during construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

Continue reading

State spent $100,000 for Capitol barricades during ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally and unknown law enforcement costs

This post has been taken down as it was out of date. For the most recent information, see: Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

Water protectors highlight Willow Creek frac-out, and the out-of-whackness of state Line 3 regulators and law enforcement

A government-Enbridge alliance is doing all it can to block Minnesota citizens from observing and critiquing the construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Tania Aubid, Winona LaDuke, Shanai Matteson and other water protectors arrived around 7 a.m. this morning at the site where Enbridge is drilling a tunnel for Line 3 under the Willow River in Aitkin County. The water protectors found what appeared to be a “frac-out,” the release of pipeline drilling mud into the river.

The state’s response focused more on trying to intimidate the water protectors for their activism than addressing the frac-out, Matteson said.

It’s a sign of the state’s upside down values. It raises questions about the state’s ability and interest in protecting the environment for future generations and who state agencies are working for.

Continue reading